Three years ago I spoke with a guy who was an IHOP intern – great guy. He loved the Lord and thought he was making a great decision by pulling up stakes, packing his bags and moving to Kansas City in hopes of becoming that much closer to Jesus. We’ll call him ‘Jesse’.
One evening, Jesse’s father began researching the school his son had decided to attend. Google’s a marvelous tool. He got on the web and typed in the word ‘IHOP’. Not only did he see the flowing accounts about the place written by IHOP itself, but he also began to see other websites mentioning the word ‘cult’. He was intrigued and so began reading. He told me that he’d hit about a dozen sites when his ‘intrigue’ turned to ‘concern’. So he called his son, now in Kansas City. Jesse seemed to be the same old Jesse over the phone and said, “Dad, don’t worry about it. This is a great place.” The matter was dropped.
Approximately 6 months later, Jesse came home for Christmas. By this time, Dad had done 6 months of steady investigation of IHOP, its ‘prophets’, current leaders, teachers and policies. After he’d settled in, Dad and Jesse had a long, long talk. Jesse had glowing accounts of the entire ministry, but there was something missing. He was speaking volumes about Mike Bickle, the classes, the other teachers, leaders, the many prophecies he’d heard and friends he’d made but not much was said about the Lord… There seemed to be something lacking according to the father’s report.
Eventually this loving father gave me a call with Jesse on another line. (Dad and I had already spoken over the phone prior to this.) There was no point in trying to dispute IHOP teachings as IHOP interns are told and taught that people outside of IHOP do not understand, and that IHOP is not like ‘regular demoninational churches’ but rather, directly in God’s will..after all, they are ‘forerunners’. Anyone outside of IHOP is, therefore, on the outside looking in.
After briefly talking about Jesus’ attributes and how great it was to get into indepth Bible study, the question was asked, “Tell me Jesse, are you practicing contemplative prayer?”
There was a long silence before he replied, “They’ve taught that.” (He would not answer the question.)
“Jesse, contemplative prayer is not scriptural. Oh sure, you can take a scripture like ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and say that it “backs up” contemplative prayer scripturally, but God isn’t complicated. He doesn’t use his Word like a jigsaw puzzle that we have to take apart and then put back together before we can know what it means. No, instead He tells us that we’re to come as a little child into His presence. Jesus Himself gave His disciples an example of how our prayers should be. If contemplative prayer was and is the correct way to go into God’s presence, then why didn’t Jesus teach that to His disciples?”
Jesse remained silent.
We discussed the warnings given to believers in the New Testament about the deception that would occur in the last days prior to His return. About how easy it would be for believers in Christ to be deceived unless they were grounded in God’s Word and unless they were en gaurd. That if it were possible it would deceive even the very elect…
We then discussed familiar spirits, false prophecies, false prophets, lying divination, occult, transcendental meditation and again, contemplative prayer. Somewhere in this conversation, Jesse has a breakthrough when God removed the scales from his eyes at least in a small, small way.
Jesse’s final words on our talk? “I don’t think I’m going back.”
Months later, the father shared with me that Jesse had indeed not returned to IHOP. He had instead started attending university and was in the process of completing his college education. So we know from this story that it’s not impossible to leave IHOP and we know that God is definitely good.
For the IHOP interns that travel these many blogs, please know that you’re in a place where God truly does not want you to be. Speaking of spiritual matters, no matter how good something may feel, there is never a guarantee that it is. Know that unless something is backed scripturally, where you’ve seen it with your own two eyes, it is not of God. Again be reminded that God’s Word is not a jigsaw puzzle. There are not secret, hidden meanings that need to be explained to you by any one person or teacher.
Lastly, any place or institution that causes you to become separated from your family or friends who disagree with you, is not a godly institution. Remember ‘Love your brother as yourself’? or ‘Honor thy mother and thy father..’ Any group that has you relying on your experiences as proof of God’s presence is not a godly institution. Our mortal flesh will eventually wither and die and our hearts can easily be deceived if we don’t guard our hearts and minds with God’s Word.
Don’t be like one of those in scripture who said, “Lord, didn’t we prophecy in Your name? Didn’t we cast out devils in Your name?” They truly thought they were walking hand-in-hand with God and doing His will. They were sadly mistaken.